Self-Development & Creative Leadership Course


Magnify the potential of everything you learn at Catalyst.

Discover how you perceive yourself, the world and your interactions with the people around you. Increase your freedom to take action, open up new ‘ways of being’ and impact the areas of life that matter most to you.

This course has been presented at more than 50 universities around the world under its official title of Being A Leader & The Effective Exercise of Leadership: An Ontological / Phenomenological Model. From artists to academics and from students to retirees, many people who have taken this course state simply, and without any grandeur, that it changed their life.

Real creative leadership

Whether conscious or not, leadership is always required to bring a new piece of music, audio, film, acting or performance into being. This is as true during the creative act itself as it is during the gritty process of delivering your artistic vision to the world and building an audience for your work. 

Mention the word "leadership" in the creative world and many people assume this must be about business or politics – almost a dirty word, related to controlling or coercing others. Participants of this course discover that real leadership never means just a position, a title, time, money, influence, or any of the traits typically "required" to be a leader or produce the results of a leader. 

Instead of mere knowledge about leadership, the course will provide you with access to exercising leadership effectively as your natural self expression. It impacts every area of your life, from realising your creative projects, to working in collaboration, to your relationship with yourself and others.

Tell it how it is

"We don't see things as they are, we see them as we are."

— Anaïs Nin

Course structure


In each of the three parts of this course, you will work to master powerful contexts that shape and colour the way in which you perceive leadership situations and how you perceive yourself in those situations. When mastered, this will provide you with a freedom to be and act, and with a range of possible solutions which may not have previously been available to you.

The course is delivered in group seminars, group Q&A and small group discussions with your fellow participants. You will also design your own small project to complete by the end of the course as a way of trying out the frameworks in your own life.  

Part I: The Four Foundational Factors

Integrity: A clear and pragmatic framework for everyday action creating workability, trust and an opportunity for you to feel whole and complete.

Authenticity: Being and acting consistent with who you hold yourself to be for others, and who you hold yourself to be for yourself. An essential quality of leadership.

Being Given Being and Action by Something Bigger than Oneself: The source of power in leading and in exercising leadership effectively. It creates for a leader the kind of power that replaces the need for force. It is the source of persistence when the going gets tough.

Being Cause in the Matter: This means being cause in the matter of everything in your life as a stand you take for yourself and life – and acting from that stand. It does not mean it is your fault, or that you failed, or that you are to blame, or even that you did it. It is just a powerful place to stand from which you can take action.

Part II: Our Contextual Framework

This part is the conceptual framework for leadership used by the course.

Part III: The Ontological Constraints that limit the effective exercise of leadership

A powerful set of frameworks that allow us to see where we are holding ourselves back. It is split into two sections:

Ontological Perceptual Constraints: Anything which limits and distorts how we perceive the situations we are dealing with.

Ontological Functional Constraints: Automatic stimulus-response behaviour that limits one’s way of being and acting.

Rocket fuel for success

The leadership and self-development tools acquired on this course are the rocket fuel which will help you realise your unwritten future and provide you with the self-knowledge, the focus and the drive required to create it. 

However you measure it and whatever artistic realm you are working in, most creatives would like to achieve success with their creative projects. From successful completion of a deeply personal artistic exploration all the way through to long-term financial security and a global audience, there are many types of success an individual may wish to achieve. 

For those of you with even larger goals in mind, the course is ideal for anyone with the courage, audacity and heart who wishes to contribute to creating a better world that works for us all, and transform the quality of life on our planet.

Essential information

Course dates

Onsite sessions

  • Friday 26 – Sunday 28 January 2024
    17:30–19:30 (Friday)
    10:00–19:30 with 30-min breaks every two hours (Saturday and Sunday)
  • Saturday 16 & Sunday 17 March 2024
    10:00–19:30 with 30-min breaks every two hours 

Online sessions

  • Saturday 10 February 2024
    10:00–14:30 with a 30-min break
  • Saturday 24 February 2024
    10:00–14:30 with a 30-min break
  • Saturday 9 March 2024
    10:00–14:30 with a 30-min break

All course participants should also attend a course intro session to prepare for the course, meet previous participants and a Q&A session.

Course intro: Date to be arranged.

Course guide including videos

Some participants on our previous course took it upon themselves to create a course companion. They wanted to make it easier to understand how it impacted them and how best to approach doing the course. They made such a good job we decided to put it on our website.

Video guide
Tuition fees

The course is provided on a pay what you wish basis, with a minimum payment of €50. If you and/or the person who normally funds your education have no financial constraints, we would suggest €350.

If you would like to pay more to help subsidise other students' places, please give whatever you wish. If you feel that your financial situation is so tough that you can’t afford the minimum payment, please email to discuss.

How to apply

The 2024 application process is now open. Please think carefully about your response to the three questions concerning what you would like to get out of the course. It may be a simple answer but please be authentic.

Apply here
Contact us

Click here if you'd like to talk with someone before making an application.

Email us


How is the course presented?

The course is delivered in an unusual format for Catalyst. There are a set of slides we will work through during each online session. A course reader will read the slides out loud whilst you are reading them yourself. Questions can be asked at any point during the course. The course leader will answer questions and provide further clarity to support the ideas presented in the slides. There are regular discovery workshops where you may work alone or with others on the ideas that have been presented. These are sometimes followed up by whole group sharing sessions. Everyone will be encouraged to share their discoveries but all sharing is ultimately voluntary!

Who designed the course?

The course was originally developed by Werner Erhard (Independent), Michael Jensen (Professor Emeritus, Harvard Business School) & Jeri Echeverria (Professor and Provost Emerita, California State University). By applying the ontological and phenomenological approaches to their study of leadership, they have discovered actionable access to altering the way in which you respond to situations requiring leadership. Since the course's inception in 2004, it has been delivered in more than 50 licensed universities and institutes of higher education around the world, including the University of Manchester, UCLA California, Erasmus University Rotterdam and many others. The course delivered at Catalyst has been modified to make the language more appropriate for our students.

Will Catalyst students be the only participants?

This varies each year. We normally deliver our course online in partnership with Screenology, a film school in the UK, to students attending our respective institutions, however this year we are delivering the course mainly onsite. In 2021, we had participants from the University of Surrey, and in 2024, we are hoping to have some students from the Royal Conservatoire in The Hague, Netherlands. We aim to create a rich and diverse audience for each course. 

Why is the course available for less than cost-price at Catalyst?

Although the course usually costs a minimum of €2000 per person, we are fortunate enough to be in a position to make it available with a ‘pay what you wish scheme’ for students already attending a course at Catalyst. If you take on board all that you discover on the course, it will transform your approach to your life and your creative endeavours. We see it as a powerful gift to you, our students and a contribution to humanity.

How many places are available on the course?

32. Where interest exceeds 32, we will attempt to put on a new course within six months.

Is this course suitable for anyone at Catalyst?

The course is available for any student but we give preference to second-year, third-year, MA and alumni students.

How can a relatively short course change my life?

Seems odd, doesn’t it? We’ve run it four times so far, and due to circumstances they were all done online... which makes a life-changing experience even harder to imagine! The course frameworks provide an opportunity for individuals to get a lot of clarity about what is holding them back in life and how to make that change. Probably best to just look at the quotes of previous participants and you can see for yourself how impactful it has been.

Can I retake the course?

Of course! For anyone who is retaking the course, we will set up a meeting before the course starts to explain how to approach it, particularly with respect to honouring the course participants who are taking it for the first time.

Is this available for alumni of Catalyst?

The course is available for alumni of Catalyst who have attended a course with us within the last five years.